Devina Joshi

Heinz: Pretty hhhhheavy stuff

Heinz’s USP lies in the fact that it is a thick ketchup. But just how thick is it? The latest campaign for the ketchup brand – made by Leo Burnett – treads an interesting route to bring that out

Ketchups have always been about thickness, be it Kissan or Heinz. However, the challenge lies in asserting its positioning in a way that is more effective than the rest. Heinz’s latest campaign, created by Leo Burnett, treads an interesting route to bring out the message. The communication revolves around a comical pronunciation concept to propagate the brand proposition.

“Heinz has been in India for the past 11 years. Its global equity comes from the product truth that it is the thickest ketchup in the world,” asserts Nitesh Tiwari, creative director, Leo Burnett, the agency that handles Heinz. “Heinz ketchup is redder, thicker and tastier than other ketchups. And thickness is a tangible dimension of a tasty experience globally.”

For Heinz’ latest communication, Tiwari says that the task for Leo Burnett was to find a rendition of the same thought relevant in the local market (India) and seamlessly give it a context for Indian consumers.

“Thus emerged the whole pronunciation angle,” smiles Tiwari.

The campaign comprises three commercials, each featuring a person who struggles to get the word Heinz out of his mouth. The first one is a South Indian housewife, ordering groceries over the phone. She concludes her list by ordering a bottle of ketchup. When the guy on the other end asks her which one, she breathes ‘Haaa…haaa…haaa…’ loudly into the phone. After battling for a while, she finally manages to get the word, Heinz, out of her mouth.

In the second TVC, a professional is out on a date with his girlfriend at a restaurant. He places a long order with the waiter and signs off with French fries. When the waiter asks him which ketchup he prefers, he struggles to get out the name he wants. As his concerned girlfriend looks on, the waiter offers him water. Once he manages to utter the word Heinz, he resumes his conversation with his companion as though nothing had happened.

The third commercial shows a news reporter catching a man as he descends a flight of stairs and asking him to name his favourite ketchup brand. The same bizarre sequence of events occurs.

The bend in the road comes here: The three commercials end with a pack shot of the ketchup bottle and the super, ‘Heinz. Takes a while to come out.’

Gajraj Rao, ad filmmaker, Code Red Films, shares some interesting facts about the three commercials, which he has directed. “Nitesh Tiwari came to me with five or six situations through which we could bring out the brand proposition,” he says. “Tiwari told me, ‘You go ahead and choose the ones you are comfortable with’.”

Ultimately, Rao selected the three which he felt would best suit the brand. He also had to make sure that the film turned out funny, but did not fall into the slapstick humour category. Rao says, “The entire story had to be told with barely two or three cuts, considering the fact that the films were 40 seconders. We had to make sure that the films didn’t get boring as a result of having the camera at one angle for too long. But we took that risk anyway.”

Rao gives due credit to the actors, especially Nutan Sooda, the actress who plays the protagonist’s girlfriend in the restaurant ad. “Actually, the lady whom we had selected for the role wasn’t playing her part too well. I took a look at Sooda, who is from the client servicing team at Burnett, and knew she could do it.”

Despite Sooda’s protests, she was made to do the scene. “The interesting thing is that she was so nervous while doing it that we told her not to change her expression and captured her as she was,” Rao laughs.

In that film, Rao also introduced an element of improvisation. In the scene where the girlfriend interrupts the protagonist during his ‘Haaa… haaa…’ fits, and asks him whether he is okay, the guy responds ‘I’m fine’, and then resumes his effort to get the ‘H’ word out.

“This was done to bring out the fact that the guy doesn’t have a stammering problem, it’s only Heinz that he is unable to pronounce,” Rao explains.

The South Indian film had Mani Chandan of ‘Main Hoon Na’ fame as its cameraman. In the other two films, the camera work was done by Piyush Shah, the cinematographer of films such as ‘China Gate’.

Interestingly, this is the first time that Heinz has not shown the product in action. This is because, as the agency puts it, people know what Heinz stands for. Rao says that it was a conscious decision to not use any background music as that would have diluted the effect of the voices.

“The original plan was to use live audio in the final commercial,” recalls Tiwari. “But later on, we realised that there were too many hidden chuckles from the people on the sets as most of them were in splits! The loudest guffaws came from Rao. Ultimately, we resorted to good old dubbing.”

He adds, “The search for the creative idea began with finding the most vivid and unique demonstration for ‘thickness’. Sometimes, when one has something so simple to say, the unexpected just happens.”

Tiwari is referring to the creative idea. “We didn’t want to go the typical product demonstration way,” he says. “When we zeroed in on the pronunciation idea, we knew this was it! This human analogy for thickness hasn’t been adopted by anyone in the past, so we hope it will be memorable for the viewers.”

Memorable it could well be, but isn’t there a degree of exaggerating the brand proposition?

“That is deliberate,” Tiwari explains. “When one needs saliency in a commercial, one has to indulge in a little exaggeration sometimes. There are many examples of simple ideas being dramatised to drive home the message. Getting the word Heinz out was the creative magnifier we used to make our simple point.”

So hhhhhhhowzzat for a ketchup brand?

© 2006 agencyfaqs!